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The only girl in school to spark an interest in welding

January 27, 2016 at 6:10 PM EST
Kalei Kipp is the only girl in the welding program at her high school. Why don't more women go into that profession? Our Student Reporting Labs report as part of Outside the Box, a series on the ways that young people are challenging traditional gender stereotypes.
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BY JORDAN BROWN

Kalei Kipp is the only girl in the welding program at Cedar Crest High School in Pennsylvania.

“It’s different from every other class that’s offered at the school, and it’s kind of dangerous and neat,” explains Kalei, who is considering a career in welding.

The U.S. economy includes more than 388,000 welding jobs and will need 111,000 new welders in five years, according to the American Welding Society. Currently, only 3 percent of professional welders are women.

Kalei recently met the only other female welder in the area, Caitlin Rude, and talked about the profession, which can pay enough to support a comfortable lifestyle.

“The bigger picture is, why aren’t there more women going into welding or why aren’t there more women going into manufacturing,” said Rude. “From day one, women are fed the story of pink and princess,” she added. “It’s definitely a false representation of individuality.”

Watch more stories of students challenging gender stereotypes, part of our series called Outside the Box.


Read the full transcript of this segment below:

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, we bring you a profile of Kalei Kipp, a young female welder from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, taking on a historically male-dominated industry.

This is the third installation of our Student Reporting Labs series called Outside the Box. It is produced by the aspiring journalists at Cedar Crest High School.

NARRATOR: According to NBC News, only 3 percent of the professional welders in the United States are women.

KALEI KIPP, Cedar Crest High School: I think welding has, like, shaped me as a person, because it helped me to be myself, and it helps me express my creativity.

NARRATOR: Kalei Kipp is a student at Cedar Crest High School and is considering pursuing a career in welding.

KALEI KIPP: It’s different from every other class that is offered at this school, and it’s kind of like dangerous and neat.

NARRATOR: She recently met a professional welder named Caitlin Rude, and they discussed what it’s like to be a female welder.

CAITLIN RUDE, Professional Welder: I don’t think that there’s a big difference between men’s and women’s work. I think that there’s a big difference between those who are dedicated and passionate about welding and those who aren’t.

KALEI KIPP: I have been considering maybe pursuing welding as a career. I have been looking into it a lot. And I think it’s really neat. And, like, you get paid a lot. And it would just be something really different to do.

CAITLIN RUDE: I think the bigger picture is, why aren’t there more women going into welding, or why aren’t there more women going into manufacturing? And I think that, from day one, women are fed the story of pink and princess and highly emotionally, sensitive creatures.

But it’s this drug that, you know, we’re passing around, and boys are supposed to be masculine and hard and strong. And it’s definitely a false representation of individuality.

KALEI KIPP: Not a lot of people get to experience welding. And I think that it’s a really good experience and thing to have and know how to do.

CAITLIN RUDE: We are all different. We’re all interested in different things. And it doesn’t matter, our gender or our sex, what we want to do with our lives.

GWEN IFILL: Pink and princess.

To see more teen-produced stories about how Generation Z refuses to let gender stereotypes influence their choices, visit the Outside the Box page on PBS.org/NewsHour.

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